New Asset ID Standards the ‘UPC Code’ for Media

In early July, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) published new standards that bind Ad-IDs to commercials and Entertainment ID Registry (EIDR) codes to programming content, using open-source audio watermarking technology.

During a July 24 panel session at the Smart Content Summit East, part of the Media & Entertainment (M&E) Day at the Microsoft Conference Center in New York, Jane Clarke, CEO and managing director of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM), didn’t hold back on how potentially transformative the standards could become.

The new standards create a “UPC code for media, essentially a way to do for media workflows, from production all the way to data and analytics reporting, to introduce standardized identifiers and streamline everything that we do, the whole ecosystem,” Clarke said.

The joint standards initiative, dubbed Trackable Asset Cross-Platform Identification (TAXI) Complete, was first launched by CIMM in 2013, with support from Ad-ID, EIDR and others, and was started with the intent of allowing for better tracking, and opening up the ability for interactive service, including surveys and dynamic ad insertion, by supporting real-time identification of content and ads across TVs, set-tops, smartphone apps and more.

The challenge now, Clarke said, is to convince both content owners and ad creators to work with the new ID standards from the outset, and make sure everyone is on the same page. “As soon as they’ve created an ad, register for that ID and then embed it to the watermark,” she said. “Then for the lifetime of that content, you’ll be able to detect it.”

Steve Davis, global product director of Kantar Media — which provided the open-source audio watermarking technology for the news standards said the SMPTE standards will make “for better ad content, more interactive ad and editorial content.”

“This is foundational stuff … and we’re in a transitional phase, and what this technology does is allow for a single version of the truth,” he added. “Wherever that content runs, over the air, OTT, VOD, we want to just make sure the content owner can track it appropriately, and [what] it runs with.”

The new standards may also help with digital content locker adoption and improve multiscreen content discovery, but for Brian Hughes, SVP of audience intelligence and strategy for ad industry specialists Magna Global, it’s the measurement aspect that’s enticing.

“One of our biggest frustrations continues to be a lack of a consistent way to do cross-platform measurement,” he said. “In order to do that consistently, you need identifiers.” He added that education on the new standard is important, Hughes said, but so too is assurance that the solution is low cost, and doesn’t burden the content and ad industries.

Will Kreth, executive director of EIDR, put it this way: think of franchises like “Star Trek,” and the sheer number of titles with the same name. The new standards will allow companies with franchises like those to better track how they perform and where. “Whether it’s the 4K version or the French language version, a major motion picture, or episode three of season two,” he said. “To have that built in provides efficiency.”

As much as 90% of theatrical releases today already have an EIDR ID, and Kreth is hoping the new initiative will also help TV content reach the same levels of EIDR adoption, especially with EIDR having discussions with the TV content vendor community about the benefits of the watermark.

The 2018 M&E Day also included Content Protection Summit East and Entertainment Production in the Cloud (EPIC) conference tracks, providing M&E technology teams valuable insights into the creation, production, distribution, security and analysis of content.

The event was presented by Microsoft, with sponsorship from IBM Watson Media, Amazon Web Services, IBM, LiveTiles, Microsoft Azure, NAGRA, NeuLion, Ooyala, EIDR, GrayMeta, MarkLogic, Qumulo, Avid, Cloudian, SoftServe and TiVo. The event was produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), the Hollywood IT Society (HITS) and the Smart Content Council.

Click here for audio of the presentation.